Whether you’re working out to lose weight, you just want to maintain a fit shape, you’re an athlete or sport person, or you’re in want of a great body, besides the exercises it’s important to take proper diet before, during and after the workout for maximum results.
A workout requires variable amount of energy depending upon its intensity. Hence, it’s important that you’re fuelled appropriately for your workout. Taking the wrong diet would not only hamper the results of the exercises but also might prove to be harmful to the body. Your muscles need carbohydrate as the chief source of energy, proteins as the building blocks not only for the muscles but also blood cells that oxygenates your workout and other tissues vital to the process. Also, fluids and electrolytes are equally important in maintaining the balance and improving your performance.
Before the workout
It is not recommended to work out on an empty stomach if you’re planning for an intense workout. However, for a lighter workout that consists of mild jogging or brisk walking, a glass of plain water is enough.
For the more extreme type of workouts your pre-workout diet should comprise of moderate amounts of carbohydrates and protein, low fat and fibre, and ample of fluids. It’s also important to take diet that your body is familiar with so as to avoid any complication.
Oats, muesli, boiled egg or omelet with bread, paneer bhurji (mashed cottage cheese) with bread, grilled chicken sandwich, milk with nuts or fruits, or even a slice of cheese pizza are good options for pre-workout diet. You should avoid fried, greasy foods and soft drinks before working out (or, in fact avoid them altogether).
It’s appropriate to take the pre-workout meal about 45 minutes before the exercise. The time difference lets the body digest the food and start with the absorption process. Also, immediately working out after meal would make the person nauseated and uncomfortable. In case of cardiovascular exercises there should be a gap of about 2-3 hours after the meal.
During the workout
The body temperature rises while exercising, leading to sweating, thus losing water. Also, exercising means a lot of muscular activity and heightened metabolism which again consumes good amount of water and electrolytes. Hence, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated during the workout.
Often water is good enough by itself, but if you’re working out intensely and over a longer period of time, or working out in hot and humid conditions, then electrolyte replenishment is also required. In those cases you can take various sports drinks prepared while keeping your requirements in mind. They instantly deliver the carbohydrates, sodium and other electrolytes.
Diet after workout
Taking the right diet after workout is very important. During the workout your body gets low on water, electrolytes, and blood glucose. Also, the muscles are worn out during the workout. The recovery from the damage and building up of muscles begin after about an hour from the exercises. Hence, protein, the building blocks, taken during this time helps. Moreover, you’re required to refuel the body with glucose whose blood levels are extremely low after workout.
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Take carbohydrates that are easier to digest and provide instant energy right after the workout. Glucose drinks or fruit juice are good options as they work faster and provides water too. Banana is a great post workout option too.
Since the requirement of protein comes a bit later when the body starts recovering, take a protein rich meal about 10-15 minutes after the glucose meal. Eggs and whey are good protein source that can be consumed after workout.
Although, most people tend to take care of proteins and carbohydrates they often forget about other essential requirements—vitamins & minerals. The workout leaves your body with damaged tissues and wandering free radicals. Vitamins like A, C, E and minerals like zinc and selenium are thus required post workout. Thus, you should take appropriate supplements to aid your meal.
Also, take enough water to replenish the lost water. Juices or sports drink can be taken to account for the loss of electrolytes.